indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Daschle criticizes 'shameful' rider in DOI budget bill
Tuesday, November 4, 2003

The Senate voted easily on Monday to approve a $20 billion spending bill for the Department of Interior amid concerns over a provision that delays a court-ordered accounting of the Indian trust.

Although some Democrats spoke out against the measure, only Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), the minority leader, and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) rejected the spending package. The roll call on the bill, which now goes onto President Bush for his signature, was 87-2. Eleven senators were not present to vote.

The lack of controversy in the Senate contrasted with the the House, where lawmakers mounted a campaign to defeat the trust fund rider. Despite impassioned pleas by several Indian Country advocates, including Reps. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) and Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), the bill was narrowly approved by a vote of 216-205.

Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), the chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations subcommittee, led debate in the Senate. He said the bill provided critical funds to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS).

But he questioned whether an historical accounting of at least $13 billion in Indian funds was a wise expenditure. "We shouldn't spend that kind of money on an incredibly cumbersome accounting that will do almost nothing to benefit the Indian people," he said.

He called the rider, which delays the accounting for a year, a much needed "time-out" in the Cobell v. Norton case, which was filed in 1996 and represents at least 500,000 individual Indians.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), the top Democrat on the subcommittee, called the provision unconstitutional because it tells the courts how to interpret federal law. Yet he too said wasn't beneficial to spend the money on the accounting when it could be used elsewhere.

"We've now had a court order," he said, "that apparently, if followed to the letter, would require us to hire accountants from Maine to California and do about $9 billion worth of work."

Daschle was the only senator to stand with the plaintiffs in the case and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the largest inter-tribal organization. "The court has ordered an accounting. This rider will undermine that order. It will delay resolution and delay justice," he said. "What other group of Americans would we dare to treat this way?"

"Why target American Indians?" he continued. "Many account holders are older people, elders who have suffered extreme economic deprivation their entire lives.. . This is shameful."

Despite concerns about resources going to Indian Country, the bill does not provide significant increases to Indian programs. Once signed into law, BIA will receive about $2.9 billion while IHS will get about $3 billion.

Earlier this year, Senate Republicans and some Democrats voted down a Daschle amendment that would have beefed up the IHS account by $2.9 billion. They also rejected his bid to add $292 million to IHS by putting a stop to a reorganization that tribal leaders oppose.

On September 25, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the Department of Interior to conduct an accounting of "all funds" in the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust. At least $13 billion has passed through the system since 1909 but the federal government can't ensure that Indian beneficiaries received all of the money.

The Bush administration, in July 2002, estimated that the accounting of the type of scale envisioned by Lamberth would cost $2.4 billion and take up to 10 years. Since the September ruling, officials bumped up the figure to anywhere from $6 billion to $12 billion.

In January of this year, Secretary of Interior Gale Norton released a scaled-back accounting plan that would have cost $335 million over five years. But it contained a significant number of limitations that Lamberth rejected in his court decision.

Senate Roll Call:
the Conference Report (H.R. 2691 Conference Report ) (November 3, 2003)

DOI Budget Bill:
H.R.2691

DOI Conference Committee Report:
House Report. 108-330 | PDF Version

Court Decisions:
Historical Accounting | Fixing the System | Structural Injunction

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Norton appealing Indian trust fund ruling (11/3)
Norton says White House behind trust fund rider (11/3)
House approves trust fund rider in DOI bill (10/31)
Campbell pushes action on trust fund suit (10/30)
Battle brews in House over DOI budget bill (10/30)
Cobell rallies support for trust fund case (10/28)
DOI bill halts Indian trust fund case (10/24)
Bill targets Indian trust fund suit (10/22)
House chairman supports self-governance rider (10/14)
Self-governance tribes fear impact of reorganization (10/09)
Lamberth lays out future of Indian trust reform (09/26)
Court report finds undervaluation of Navajo lands (08/21)
Administration eyes consolidation of Indian appraisals (08/15)
Tally for private attorney fees in Cobell case rises (07/24)
Congress hacks Bush's accounting funds (7/16)
Swimmer partly right on trust fund rider (7/14)
Bush official balks at large settlement for Cobell (7/10)
On trust, lawmakers take Bush officials at face value (06/25)
Private attorneys reap benefits on Cobell case (06/24)
Norton offered settlement funds for IIM trust (6/20)
Lamberth criticizes interference with trust fund case (05/22)
Bush administration turns to Congress on trust (04/04)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge's David Michaud wins fighting match (12/19)
Mark Trahant: Old school budgets a better deal for Indian Country (12/19)
Ruth Hopkins: Boycott a repeat offender of cultural appropriation (12/19)
8th Circuit sides with Omaha Tribe in reservation boundary case (12/19)
BIA finalizes rule to add Alaska tribes to land-into-trust process (12/19)
Obama signs measure to extend VAWA tribal provision to Alaska (12/19)
Wyandotte Nation set to break ground on $1.4M cultural center (12/19)
Man from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe charged for cousin's murder (12/19)
Opponents of Cowlitz Tribe plan appeal of gaming land decision (12/19)
Menominee Nation off-reservation casino supporters hold rally (12/19)
Bear River Band hires tribal member as casino general manager (12/19)
Column: Poarch Creek gaming is only thing working in Alabama (12/19)
Column: Wait for decision on Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (12/19)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe inaugurates new leadership (12/18)
Walt Lamar: Cooperation helps address crime in Indian Country (12/18)
Brandon Ecoffey: Tournament shows hope of the Lakota people (12/18)
Editorial: Showing caution for marijuana sales in Indian Country (12/18)
Editorial: New York governor makes right call to outlaw fracking (12/18)
Fines for foes of Tohono O'odham Nation off-reservation casino (12/18)
New York passes over tribes for first commercial casino licenses (12/18)
Factions of Cayuga Nation in court over Class II gaming facility (12/18)
Deadline extended for commercial casino eyed by Quapaw Tribe (12/18)
Opinion: Another casino isn't answer to Connecticut's problems (12/18)
Native Sun News: Youth take on lead role in Dakota memorial ride (12/17)
Mark Trahant: NCAI launches new campaign against racist mascot (12/17)
Norm DeWeaver: Job market is a disaster zone in Indian Country (12/17)
Amanda Blackhorse: Fake chiefs and fake headdresses must go (12/17)
DOI makes $9M in buy-back offers on Coeur d'Alene Reservation (12/17)
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes see success with two bills in Congress (12/17)
Boyd Cothran: Torture justified by treatment of Indian prisoners (12/17)
Rep. Gosar faces criticism over bill that benefits Hualapai Tribe (12/17)
Navajo Nation's highest court dismisses challenge to candidate (12/17)
Column: Tribal voices often minimized in environmental debate (12/17)
Column: Chief Cliff still an undeniably spiritual place in Montana (12/17)
Native activists in Brazil protest land bill with bows and arrows (12/17)
Shakopee Tribe funds Eastern Shoshone Tribe casino expansion (12/17)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.